In 1996, the parents of an international student came to the United States to help with their new grandson. The international student “Nancy” and her husband “John” were both working toward a Ph. D. When the parents arrived at their final destination, they were missing a suitcase. Many of us have had a suitcase arrive on a later flight, but this was not an ordinary suitcase or a normal wait for a missing case.
The suitcase contained 41 of the father’s paintings that were going to go on exhibition here in the USA. The value of the paintings was very substantial, so the loss caused great concern. The Nav staff family working at the university requested prayer for the missing suitcase and for God to work in the lives of the family through this situation.
After three days, “John” was convinced the suitcase would not be found. For eight weeks the search continued – forms were filled out, phone calls were made, and airports were visited. The Nav staff person contacted the airport where the search was being handled. After some discussion the customer representative discovered something on the computer. She said, “We have a missing suitcase with the same last name, but a different first name.” What a joy to hear that the first name was the daughter’s name!
How had this happened? The father’s name on the suitcase was in Chinese. The airport authorities could not read the name, but when they looked inside the suitcase, they found the daughter’s name written in English. The computer search for all those weeks using the father’s name had gone without a match.
The American and Chinese families celebrated together. They knew people had been praying. “John’s” response was: “I have heard of amazing things happening to other people before, but this is the first time for me. I believe God has done this.”
Over the next few months, the family met many Christians. They saw a difference in the quality of the lives of the believers, and they wanted to learn more about God and Christianity. They were able to study the Bible in Chinese with an older Chinese believer. After several weeks in Bible study, the family gathered with their Bible study leader and the American family. The conversation became more serious, and then all four from the “suitcase family” prayed to ask Christ to forgive their sins and to live in their lives.
This family has now moved to another location, and they are active in their small Chinese church and doing well spiritually. They are raising their two children to have faith in God and in the power of prayer. God’s work takes time. It often involves many members of the body of Christ. You can have a part in working alongside God as He unfolds truth to people who have not been able to learn about Him before. It probably will not involve a missing suitcase, but God will use life’s circumstances and believing friends to minister to other international students.